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the spirit and belief of the truth." The terms of salvation are in the gospel clearly stated; and we must not imagine, that, contrary to this statement, there is a secret purpose, which will open the door of salvation to the finally impenitent, against whom the gospel has shut it, or will shut the door against the sincerely penitent, to whom the gospel has opened it.
Whatever difficulties may attend this doctrine, so much is plain; They who are chosen to salvation, are chosen to be holy. And whatever doubts we may have concerning our own election, we may make it sure, by adding to our faith the virtues and works of the gospel. "If we do these things we shall never
II. To consider the spiritual qualifications, to which the Ephesians were chosen. "God chose them to be holy and without blame before him in love."
There is a relative or ceremonial holiness often applied to persons and things, on account of their separation from a common to a sacred use. But more usually the term denotes a real, internal purity, in opposition to moral pollution or sin. This is the sense of it in the text. To be holy is to be " without blame in the sight of God."
Holiness consists in the conformity of the soul to the divine nature and will; and is opposed to all moral evil. In fallen creatures it begins in the renovation of the mind after the image of God. Hence Christians are said "to be renewed in the spirit of their minds, and to be made new creatures." In this change the heart is formed to the love of God's character and will, and to a hatred of whatever appears contrary to them.
They who love the Lord, hate evil." This renovation, though imperfect in degree, yet extends to the whole man, so that "all things become new." And though the renewed Christian in many things offends, yet he has respect to all God's commands. He desires
to be without blame before God. He contents not himself with his present imperfect measure of goodness, but is solicitous to cleanse himself from all filthiness, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God. With this view he attends on all divine institutions. He desires the pure milk of God's word that he may grow thereby. He receives with meekness the engrafted word, hoping that it may save his soul. He is not disgusted at a reproof or warning, because it comes home to his case; he regards it as a word in season, is thankful for it, and humbly applies it. When he hears the word, it is not that he may find matter for objection and cavil, or that he may apply what he hears to others, but that he may know himself more intimately, understand his duty more perfectly, and do God's will more acceptably.
When he comes to the ordinance of the supper, he desires there to remember and show forth the death of his Saviour. He does not expect to be accepted, merely because he eats and drinks in Christ's presence; he considers that he must also depart from iniquity. He is not aiming at a name to live, but at real improve. ment in the spiritual life. He attends to the great things exhibited in this ordinance, such as the evil and danger of sin, the ruined condition of the human race, the mercy of God in providing for them a Saviour, and the love of Christ in giving himself a sacrifice to God for the sins of men. By the contemplation of these things he strengthens his purpose of obedience, his faith in the Redeemer, his gratitude to God, and his love to all
We may observe farther, that the Apostle considers love as a main branch of holiness. "God hath chosen us to be holy and without blame before him in love."
When the word love, in the sacred writings, is used indefinitely, and without limitation to a particular object, love to men, and especially to the brethren, is usually intended. So the word is to be understood
here, as appears from the 15th verse of this chapter, and from the parallel place in the epistle to the Colossians, where the Apostle gives thanks for their faith in Christ and love to the saints.
Love is, every where in scripture, considered as a most essential part of the character of the saint. Charity out of a pure heart is the end of the commandment. Christians are above all things to put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Believers have purified their souls in obeying the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren. Brotherly kindness and charity are the graces, which complete the Christian character.
Let us remember then, that withcut charity all our pretentions to gospel holiness are vain. We We may talk with the tongue of men and angels; we may discover a fervent zeal in matters which bear some relation to religion; we may have much knowledge of the myste ries of revelation; we may profess a strong faith; we may be liberal of our substance in promoting some favorite designs, which we call pious ones; but if we have no charity, all is nothing-or nothing but glare and noise. That charity which belongs to the Christian temper, is kind and longsuffering, opposite to pride, ostentation and envy. It is humble and peaceable, meek and condescending-not easily provoked, not apt to censure. It rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. It beareth, hopeth and believeth all things.
EPHESIANS i. 4, 5, 6.
According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise, of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
THE nature of that election or predestination, of which these Ephesians were the subjects; and that holiness and love, to which they were chosen, we illus. trated in our preceding discourse. We are now,
III. To consider the adoption to which believers are predestinated.
Adoption is a word several times used by this Apos tle, to express the high privileges and exalted hopes of Christians in this world, and the superior dignity and happiness reserved for them in another. The word used by him, which we render adoption, properly signifies putting one in the place of a son.
The word suggests to us this idea, that we have no natural right to the privileges of children; for though we are by our creation the children of God, yet we are become disobedient and rebellious children, and as such are excluded from all title to the inheritance orig. VOL. III.
inally promised to obedience. Our sonship is not our native right, but the effect of God's gracious adoption. In this adoption are included several important privileges.
1. It implies a state of freedom, in opposition to bondage. The Apostle says, We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adop
Believers are free, as being delivered from the bowdage of sin.
This freedom they obtain in the renovation of their minds after the image of God. "As many as receive Christ, to them is given power to become the children of God, for they are born of him."-They are his children by a heavenly and spiritual birth. They are born from above-born of the Spirit; "and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." They are no more the servants of sin to obey it in the lusts thereof; but, being made free from sin, they are become the servants of God, and they have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
They are free, as having near access to God and intimate communion with him.
Through Christ they have access by the Spirit unto the Father. Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, and given them the spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father."
Children are usually admitted to that familiar intercourse, which is denied to servants: So they, whom God has called to the adoption of children, may come boldly to his throne. They know where to find him, and may approach even to his seat. They have liberty to enter into the most holy place by the blood of Christ. And God makes to them some peculiar communications of his grace, to help their infirmities, strengthen their good resolutions, comfort them in afflictions, defend them against temptations, and lead